The Importance of Strategic Urban Development Planning Focused on Sustainability

Strategic development planning, as related to urban planning, entails the clarification of the most appropriate urban model in order to reach developmental goals. It is not just a government initiative. Instead, it is a coordinated effort between private and public sectors to ensure that the urban model meets the requirements for energy, environmental protection, sustainability, and the improvement of the living conditions of the residents in the particular urban environment.

On a national level, strategic development planning focuses on the overall model and framework for land use management, in order to achieve the goals of sustainability, economic viability, environmental protection, and the improvement of the living conditions of the country’s citizens. Modern strategic development planning entails a public process and is not simply a top-down approach.

South Africa forms part of the larger global development framework. Within South Africa, each of the cities must be developed in such a way so as to address the environmental impact of urban development. There is a growing trend internationally to move from only focusing on the individual city facilities to a strategic development planning approach that focuses on sustainable development.

In turn, sustainable development is connected to the need for modernising cities to ensure comfort, economic growth, and environmental sustainability. With sustainability as the focus in strategic development planning for cities, it is possible to improve the environmental quality of the affected areas. Such development strategies should form the basis of modern architectural planning and the design transportation routes.

Indeed, globalisation has been the main influence in urban design over the past two decades. Urban areas are becoming more important as populations move from rural to urban areas in search of jobs, houses, education, and opportunities. As such, modern strategic development planning should make provision for the rapid urbanisation of South Africa’s people.

In line with international trends, local governments no longer just have influence over their immediate territories, and with the growth of South Africa also closely related to what goes on in the urban areas, it is important to ensure that sustainability principles are adhered to regarding strategic development planning for urban areas.

In South Africa, many of the municipalities are still young and thus have growing pains to deal with. At the same time, the rapid urbanisation and increase in population because of an influx of immigrants also mean more pressure on the municipalities to deliver essential services. However, with limited budgets and often limited capacity to generate income, the municipalities are regularly unable to deliver the required services.

In line with international strategic development planning trends, the local government focus is now more long term. With urban and rural areas forming part of municipalities, it can be challenging to apply the appropriate strategies to ensure the balanced development of urban and rural areas. The benefits of urban development must also be visible in the rural areas, but at present, many of the rural habitants are marginalised in terms of service delivery, education, housing, transport, and job opportunities.

Effective strategic development planning can help to improve cooperation with the private sector and communities. It can also help to improve communication between the various structures to ensure coordinated planning. It provides for adequate dialogue between the private sector, residents, and local government. Such development planning entails the inclusion of communities in decision making. With a long-term strategic focus, development goals are set with monitoring in place to ensure that the objectives are not abandoned. Strategic development planning makes it possible to ensure that sustainable development goals can be reached on a local level.

Such an approach gives appropriate recognition to the cultural assets, which add to the enjoyment of life. It also focuses the attention on environmental issues, ensuring that housing, energy, and mobility planning can be done in line with the environmental sustainability goals. It is necessary to ensure that the local and national government budgets are developed and aligned with the sustainability goals. With such planning, it is possible for municipalities to work with limited resources and still meet the demands for services related to larger urban populations.

It is important for local and national government to work with experienced urban and town planners when conducting strategic development planning in order to achieve sustainability goals. Make use of the expertise of The Practice Group in this regard.